Nesco Dehydrator Review

Several people have asked me what dehydrator I use. I often post through the summer and fall all of the fruits and vegetables I like to dehydrate. We have apple and pear trees in our yard so this time of year I am busy picking, chopping and freezing, and also dehydrating. I have tried to dehydrate all kinds of fruit because I hate to waste food. Dried watermelon is my girls favorite. I have dried peaches, nectarines, apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, canteloupe (yuck), carrots, peas, and I’m sure a few I can’t remember. This fall and winter I will be testing dehydrated meals and beef jerky. There are so many great ways to use a dehydrator.

I bought this Nesco Dehydrator several years ago. Mine came with four trays, this new version comes with five trays and a jerky gun. The price is a great deal. I have saved our family far more money than I paid for this dehydrator. The one down side is that it does take up quite a bit of space. Mine lives in our kitchen green house window. Not the prettiest thing to put in there, but it fits there and is quick to grab when I need it.

The directions are very simple and easy to use. The lid of the dehydrator lists the temperatures that each type of food should be dehydrated at. I love this feature because I don’t have to rummage around for the instructions each time I use it. From there, you just have to check each item every hour or so until you know how long certain foods take. Yesterday I made thin sliced strawberries and most of them were done in 3-4 hours. Blueberries take me about 12 hours or so.The thinner you cut your fruit or vegetables and how much liquid is in them will lower the time it takes to dehydrate. Thin carrots obviously take a shorter time than thin strawberry slices because carrots don’t have as much natural liquid in them. I have only ruined one fruit in all of my experiments. When I realized I had way over dehydrated the blueberries I made them into beautiful frosting. This link gives you a video tutorial too. πŸ™‚

Here are a few pictures of my dehydrator so you can see what it comes with. The lid shows you all of the dials and temperatures to dehydrate at. All of the trays are “webbed” so air can flow through them. Mine came with one solid plastic tray that fits on top of the other trays. This is used for very small items that would fall through the webbed trays or liquid. I have used the solid tray to make fruit leather, peas, and thin carrot slices. It’s a simple but great machine. I highly recommend it! If you have questions about the dehydrator that I didn’t answer let me know, I’m happy to help. πŸ™‚

Nesco Dehydrator Tray
Nesco Dehydrator Liquid Tray

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Back to school- granola bars

I know that some of you have been back to school for several weeks now. My girls head back to school next Wednesday so we are, begrudgingly, getting ready for school to start. We all love being home together so the thought of the girls going back to school is sad, but we know it’s what is best for all of us. It is time to get back to a routine and let me get something done. While I LOVE having my girls home all the time, I get a whole lot of nothing done. My desk has been piling up for two months so it’s high time I get several hours each day to tick through my pile. One thing in my pile is preparing curriculum to teach live video classes for you all. I am so excited to be able to teach you, right from the comfort of your home and mine. Stay tuned for more on that soon. My email subscribers are the ones that get to sign up first so be sure to get on the list!

Baking is in full swing around here in preparation for my girls to go back to school. I like to be sure to have several quick grab snacks that are packed with healthy ingredients. It’s important that I am not feeding my girls junk so I typically make all of their snacks myself. These granola bars are packed full of healthy fats, protein, and omega 3’s. The original recipe for these came from my friend Alayne. I have since made them allergy friendly and tweaked some of the ratios. When I cut these, I make them pretty small as they are very filling. These are great for lunch boxes, after school snacks, and other on the go activities.

Sunbutter Granola Bars

Ingredients
Β½ C Raw sunflower seeds
1/2 C Unsweetened coconut flakes (for those who aren’t allergic)
3 C GF Oats
Β½ C Allergy friendly chocolate chips like Enjoy Life Brand
Β½ C Craisins
2 T Whole Millet
2 T Flax meal
2 T Chia seeds
3 T Pepitas
1 t Salt
1 t Cinnamon
ΒΌ C Honey or maple syrup for my vegan friends
ΒΎ C Brown Rice syrup
1 C Sunbutter
1 t Vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350Β° Prepare an 8×10 baking dish with parchment paper and non-stick spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients through cinnamon. Once well combined, add the remaining ingredients. Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly until everything is well coated. It’s easiest to do this with a stand mixer, but you can do it by hand if necessary. Place granola bar mixture in your prepared dish. With a large piece of wax paper, press down mixture firmly until the whole pan is even. Bake at 350Β° for 30 minutes. Once mostly cooled, press down one more time with wax paper. Let completely cool on the counter or in the fridge. Cut into desired sizes. Wrap individually and keep in an airtight container. Enjoy!

*There are affiliate links above for your convenience and helps support my blog πŸ™‚ always be sure to check ingredients to be sure the items are safe for you.

Sunny Chocolate Chip Rice Cream

Who wants a little extra sunshine in their lives that is Top 8 Free and Vegan?? I certainly do! A few weeks ago I made this recipe up with the hopes of making a coconut free ice cream. I know that some of my followers can’t have coconut so I gave it a whirl. There are times that I get wild hairs for flavors and this is one of them. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but let me tell you, it is nothing short of AMAZING!! This definitely brought some extra sunshine into my life when I tried it. I hope you love it just as much as I do. Let me know what you think! Thanks to one of my followers on Instagram for giving this a great name!

Sunny Chocolate Chip Rice Cream

Ingredients
32 oz Rice milk
4 t Vanilla extract
1 C Coconut sugar or regular sugar for my no coconut friends
6 T Cocoa powder
2 t Guar gum
1/4 C Tapioca starch
ΒΎ C Enjoy life chocolate chips
1 C Frozen sunbutter cut into small chunks

Directions
In a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix all ingredients through tapioca starch together well. Place all liquid into an ice cream maker. My Cuisinart electric ice cream maker takes 20 minutes to turn into ice cream, but mix until yours is done. Once you have soft serve ice cream pour in the chocolate chips and sunbutter chunks. Continue to churn until the chocolate chips and sunbutter are well incorporated. Place all of the soft serve ice cream into a freezer safe tupperware. This recipe requires an ice cream maker or you will end up with a gummy ice block. :/ If you freeze it completely, it will need to thaw for 10-15 minutes on the counter before you can scoop it. I typically use a spoon that has been run under hot water to scoop. Make sure that you freeze this completely before you eat it or it will be gooey. Enjoy!

*There are affiliate links above for your convenience and helps support my blog πŸ™‚ always check ingredients to be sure the items are safe for you.

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

I have been on vacation and haven’t posted any recipes for a few weeks so I thought I would post one today. This recipe is brand new as of a few weeks ago. I was feeling the need to add a new muffin to my breakfast routine so I came up with the pumpkin oat muffin recipe. It is so good that I almost shed a happy tear. I’m not a girl that cries over food, but this one was almost worth it. πŸ™‚ Clearly, I know this seasonis not fall with lots of pumpkin recipes floating around. I have a very long list of foods that I can’t have so I’m not able to eat seasonally very often. This forces me to eat whatever I can whenever I want. With pumpkin, I’m happy to eat it all year round!! I hope you enjoy this amazing and quick muffin recipe all year round as well.

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Ingredients
1 Β½ C Gluten free oats
2 2/3 C Gluten free oat flour
6 T Coconut sugar
5 packets Stevia
1 t Baking soda
Β½ t Salt
2 T Flax meal
Β½ t Pumpkin pie spice
1 t Cinnamon
2 Eggs or 6 T aquafaba (chickpea water)
2 C Pumpkin puree
Β½ C Olive oil
1 Β½ C Water

Directions
Preheat oven to 400Β°. Prepare muffin pan with paper liners sprayed with non-stick spray, then set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Then add all of the liquid ingredients together and mix until well combined. Using a large cookie scoop, fill each muffin tin. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minuets. Makes 18 muffins. Enjoy!

*These aren’t very sweet so if you like a sweet muffin, I would up the coconut sugar to 3/4 C

Vegan ice cream

Ice cream is a must on a hot summer day! My husband loves his ice cream, plain vanilla is his favorite. All of my girls love ice cream as well, but they love other flavors. I have made vanilla, chocolate, caramel, and mint chocolate chip. Having an ice cream maker has been so much fun for my family. When I was growing up we had an electric ice cream maker that took a long time to make ice cream and required rock salt. Since it took so long we didn’t make ice cream very often, but I remember loving it when we did. I figured my family would love homemade ice cream just as much as I did when I was a kid so I started looking into ice cream makers a few years ago. I’ve reached the point in life when I look for new kitchen appliances and gadgets for my birthday, I must be getting old! LOL! Each year I have added new appliances and gadgets that I love. This Cuisinart ice cream maker is what I ended up buying and I just love it. It is super easy to use, cleans easily, and makes ice cream in 20 minutes without needing rock salt. What could be better?!

For an end of the school year treat for my girls we had ice cream Sundaes. We started with vanilla ice cream and then added Enjoy Life chocolate chips, and added sprinkles on top. The neighbor girls decided to come and join in the fun as well. It was a great way to end the school year and cool off on a hot summer day. BTW- the price on those chocolate chips is the best I’ve ever seen, $3.73/pack with free shipping if you have an Amazon prime account. I’ve never seen them for less than $4.95. I’m off to buy these. πŸ™‚

I hope that you can enjoy some amazing vegan ice cream this summer as well. You don’t need an ice cream maker for this recipe, but I think it turns out much creamier if you do. Also note that you don’t need to use the guar gum or tapioca starch if you don’t want to. The ice cream with be much harder once frozen completely if you don’t use them. For years I didn’t use them, but my husband would get frustrated having to wait so long for the ice cream to be soft enough to scoop. If you don’t want to use those two ingredients, by all means don’t. Just be sure to leave the ice cream on the counter for about 30 minutes before you want to scoop it. It also won’t be as soft, but still tastes great. Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy. Add any toppings that you want, we’ve tried and loved all kinds. The ice cream is made from coconut milk which I know has recently been added by the FDA as a tree nut, though it technically isn’t a tree nut.

Vegan vanilla ice cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients
*32 oz Coconut Cream
1 T Vanilla extract
1 C Coconut sugar
2 t Guar gum
ΒΌ C Tapioca starch

Directions
In a large bowl and a hand mixer, mix all ingredients together well. Place all liquid into the frozen insert of an ice cream maker. My electric ice cream maker takes 20 minutes to turn into ice cream, but churn until yours is done. Place all of the soft serve ice cream into a freezer safe tupperware. If you do not have an ice cream maker you can just put the liquid into a freezer safe tupperware and freeze until nearly firm. Enjoy!

*this is the coconut cream I use because it has no other ingredients other than coconut

There are affiliate links above for your convenience and helps support my blog πŸ™‚

How to have that Awkward Conversation

I have a few more topics to post about in celebration of Food Allergy Awareness week which is this week. The question I will be answering today is: How do you navigate awkward conversations with other people that do not understand food allergies?

I will admit that I am not perfect in this area, but I am well known for having many awkward conversations with people when necessary. My professional history is counseling at risk kids and their parents. Talk about some awkward conversations… Trust me, I’ve had more than my fair share of those. Having those kind of awkward conversations and having awkward conversations about food allergies have many things in common. Here are some guidelines that I try to stick with when having awkward or difficult conversations with people that do not understand what you are going through. I hope these are helpful. Remember, these are ways that I have learned to deal with these situations, they may or may not work for you.

1. Don’t be awkward yourself. I know that may not come off very nicely, I don’t mean to offend anyone. There are times when we feel self conscious, have had bad past experiences, etc. and we take those emotions into our conversations about food allergies. I try to remain matter of fact when telling people about my family’s food allergies and intolerances. If I act like they are no big deal, others will behave the same way. If I overreact emotionally, others will likely not take us very seriously. I find that when I talk very matter of factly about our food allergies and intolerances, other people want to hear more and find it all fascinating. This to me, is a great place to arrive. They have taken me seriously and are comfortable asking me more questions.

2. Be calm. For those of us with severe food allergies or have kids with them, our lives are very stressful. Our emotions can often be found clearly on our sleeve. It is a VERY emotional journey! Remember, I’ve shed buckets of tears over the span of having kids with food allergies. Since our emotions are so raw and our stress levels high, we can tend to drag those emotions around with us. When we enter into a conversation with people that don’t understand our food allergies we can spew our bottled up emotions quickly and easily. We often think these people deserve it. This doesn’t help our plight with our family and friends that don’t understand our food allergies, it only makes it worse. Hear me clearly, it is OK to have all of these emotions, but we need to find the right place to deal with them. I HIGHLY suggest finding others in your area that have food allergies to be in fun active community with them. It not only helps to have other people that understand, it also gives you safe people to have meals and outings with that “get it”. This should help when you have to have those hard conversations with people that don’t get it because you have a village that does. Then, be sure to go into conversations with others that may not understand you with a calm attitude. In any situation, being calm is always helpful.

3. Put yourself in their shoes. I really do my best to understand where other people are coming from. We may not see eye to eye on some things, but I really want to hear them. It’s important to really seek WHY someone doesn’t understand our food allergies. Do they just need us to educate them better and in a kind way? Are we behaving in a way that may feel offensive or crazy to them? I meet people all the time that I just don’t understand their situation, because I’m not in their situation. The same goes for others that don’t have food allergies. I have had to realize that I can’t expect people without food allergies to understand us fully because they aren’t in our shoes. It does feel so good when friends and family that don’t have food allergies attempt to understand us the best they can. Let’s have the same attitude towards them as we want them to have towards us.

4. Be an educator. Living with food allergies has made you an educator whether you want to be or not. It is our job to educate people that don’t understand what we live with on a daily basis. If we want to be understood, we must be willing to help people understand us. A good teacher is one that is well versed, has an engaging way of educating (this varies with our personalities which is good), and teaches the facts. From there, our “students” get to choose whether or not to believe what we have taught them. It is no different than a school teacher, it’s just in a different context. Life is full of teaching and learning.

5. Let it go. Some people just simply won’t ever understand us and will think we are crazy. That’s ok and we need to get to a place where we can embrace that. We will be misunderstood by someone at some point in our lives because of food allergies. That’s unfortunately the way life goes, for everyone, food allergies and not. For those that you have tried to educate, have had very calm conversations with, and been very kind to about it, but they still just don’t understand, let them be. I have had to learn that there are some people that just don’t want to understand us or what we deal with everyday. With those people, I just have to learn to still be kind to them, but not spend meals with them very often or ever if I can. I don’t let these people get under my skin, they just simply won’t be someone that I live a close life with. That’s ok, I have plenty of amazingly supportive family and friends that do understand us.

I hope that you find my tips helpful. Know that I have been in those awkward food allergy conversation shoes. I have someone close to me that just doesn’t get it, makes snide comments often about food allergies, and thinks I’m crazy. You aren’t alone if you find yourself in those shoes. While it can be very difficult, I have learned to be thankful for the MANY family and friends that do get it and are very supportive. I hope you have a great village around you that “gets it” too.

I’m also posting a recipe for you today as I will be out of town on Friday. A reader hinted that she would love my blueberry rhubarb (blubarb) crumble recipe. It’s hot off the press, so here you go!

Blubarb Crumble

Ingredients

2 C Chopped rhubarb
2 C Frozen or fresh blueberries
1 C Coconut Sugar, divided
2 T Lemon juice
2 T Tapioca starch
6 T Earth balance soy free buttery spread
1/2 C Gluten free oats
1/2 C Gluten free oat flour
1/4 t Salt

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350Β°. Prepare an 8×8 baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, blueberries, lemon juice, tapioca starch, and 1/2 C coconut sugar. Mix them until all of the ingredients are well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, oat flour, the remaining 1/2 C coconut sugar, and salt. Then cut the butter into the oat mixture until it is pea sized. Using a spatula, scrape the fruit mixture into the 8×8 baking dish and spread the mixture until it is even. Then sprinkle the oat mixture over the top of the fruit and make sure it is evenly coated. Bake in the oven at 350Β° for 45 minutes or until the fruit mixture is bubbling. Eat warm with your favorite allergy friendly ice cream. Enjoy!

Comparing Egg Substitutes

My family can eat eggs, but I have clients that can’t. That means that I make it my job to find the best egg replacement for them that I can. I test every recipe I make so it can be safe for my clients. When I began my egg free baking many years ago when my middle daughter was allergic to egg, I used ener-G egg replacer (affiliate link). I had no complaints about the ener-G egg replacer, and at the time there were very few if any other alternatives. Times and ingredients change quickly in the food allergy world for the better all the time. A few years after I started using ener-G egg replacer, the flax egg became popular, then the chia egg not too long after that, and now aquafaba (garbanzo bean/chick pea water) is the craze. Over the years I have trialed all of these egg substitutes in many different recipes. I had many successes and also many failures. Through all of my experimenting with different egg substitutes, I had never compared them side by side, until recently anyways.

The way I learn best is by reading or watching and then doing. I have done so much reading on egg substitutes and experimented, as I mentioned above. Every time I have used one of the egg substitutes I used in the video, I have more questions I wish I could find the answers to. Since I can’t seem to find them online, I decided that I will figure it out myself. I know I can’t be the only one with these questions. This video is just scratching the surface of baking without eggs, but I hope it is helpful for you. There are other videos that I would like to make about egg substitutes so be sure to come back again. One thing to note, this is a B rated film. This is what happens when I venture to do videos without my professional video guy helping me. I figure, the content is helpful and life can be B rated sometimes. Enjoy!! πŸ™‚

By far, I would say that aquafaba is the best egg substitute as a general whole. I will do another post and go into more detail about my years of experience trying all of these egg substitutes. Some of the egg substitutes are great for some recipes and terrible for others. More on that to come. For now, enjoy this first video.

Blueberry Oat Muffins

Ingredients
1 1/2 C Oats
2 2/3 C Flour
2/3 C Coconut sugar
1 t Baking soda
Β½ t Salt
2 Eggs or egg substitute of choice
1 1/2 C Water
1/2 C Olive oil
1 C Blueberries
2 T Chia seeds
2 T Lemon juice

Directions
Preheat oven to 400Β°. Prepare a muffin tin with non stick spray and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine all dry ingredients until well combined. Then add the wet ingredients with a spoon and mix well. Using a large cookie scoop, place a heaping scoop of batter into each the muffin tin until all of the cupcake wells are full. This mix will make 12-15 muffins. Bake at 400Β° for 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the muffin pan until they are completely cool or they will be crumbly. They freeze really well in an airtight container. Enjoy!

The chemistry behind natural food dyes

I am so excited to have my friend, Alexis from chemistrycachet, here guest posting today. A few months ago I found her on Instagram and loved everything she posted. She is the chemist I always wished I could be. I love a good science experiment, changing the colors of things, making bubbling eruptions with my kids, seeing how different chemicals interact with each other, knowing the why behind the experiments, etc. This has been true since I was a little girl. My poor parents had to put up with a lot of experiments and messes from me when I was growing up. Thankfully they were very gracious and didn’t seem to mind any of it. With all of my experimenting and finding joy in all of it, I still didn’t “get” the science behind it. That didn’t seem, and still doesn’t, to stop me from enjoying what science has to offer. Now I experiment in my kitchen several days a week making recipes. πŸ™‚ I took science classes in high school and barely scraped by and avoided them like the plague in college. My mind just simply doesn’t work the way a scientist brain does and I’ve learned that’s ok. I can still love it all and lean on people like Alexis to fill in the blanks that I can’t. We all need each other. πŸ™‚
In the fall, I was making cupcakes for my daughters birthdays and one of them wanted pink frosting. One of her friends can’t have food dye so I wanted to figure out a natural way to make pink frosting without food dye. After all, I make allergy friendly foods all the time, I should be able to feed a child that doesn’t eat food dyes as well. I knew that beetroot powder made a beautiful pink, but I wasn’t so sure I wanted the flavor of beets in the frosting. Truth is, I don’t think frosting with beetroot powder tastes like beets, I just wanted to experiment. I made my first pink frosting out of dehydrated strawberries. Once they were dehydrated and crisp, I ground them in my coffee grinder until they became a powder. I added the strawberry powder to my white frosting until I got my desired pink color. My oldest daughter loved the natural pink and said it was a great light strawberry flavor.
After the party, I was talking to a client of mine that has become a friend. We were talking about the pink frosting and how I would love to make other dye free colors so we brainstormed some other colors. She has the science brain that I don’t, so she told me that if you add baking soda to any purple berry that the color would turn blue. The wheels in my brain started turning and turning. My excitement grew and I wanted to start experimenting again. Last month, I was drying blueberries in my dehydrator for a snack and forgot them overnight. When I woke up in the morning, the blueberries were dry and crispy. Not good for snacks, but the perfect time to experiment. πŸ™‚ Again, I ground them into dust in my coffee grinder and got out four small bowls. I put a small amount of white frosting in two of them and mixed one with just blueberry powder. The next one I mixed with blueberry powder and a pinch of baking soda. These were fun colors, but not very vibrant. I did end up with a purple from the straight blueberry powder and a blueish grey color from the blueberry powder mixed with baking soda. These didn’t satisfy my expectation of vibrant natural food dye. In my next two bowls, I started with blueberry powder in each of them and then mixed a bit of water into them to make a watery paste. This made the color very deep and vibrant, just what I was looking for. I took one of these bowls and put a pinch of baking powder in it and voila, it turned a deep midnight blue. Now we’re talking! I added white frosting to each of these mixtures and got exactly what I was hoping for, a vibrant magenta/purple and a lovely blue color. Mission accomplished.
Since we are talking frosting today and natural food dyes, I thought I would throw in a fun deep green as well. A few years back, I made sun butter cookies and they turned a deep green color. I thought this was so strange, but didn’t think much deeper into it than that. Every time I made something after that with sunbutter and baking soda, I ended up with a dark green item. This happened with cookies, bars, muffins, etc. At some point, I read that there is a chemical reaction between sunflower seeds and baking soda that makes the green color. Below, I made a sunbutter frosting just for the fun of having green frosting and it tastes delicious too.
Alexis, will you tell us all a bit about you, your passions, and where your love for chemistry came from?
I have loved science since I was a little girl. My dad bought me a little chemistry set when I was 6 years old, and I was so fascinated by the experiments, chemicals, and equipment. Although I didn’t always want to be a chemist, I knew I would be a scientist someday. It changed every year, but by the time I graduated high school, I wanted to go back to the root of all sciences….chemistry.
The more experiences I have had as an adult, the more I realize how valuable chemistry is in every aspect of life. My husband was in the Marine Corps for many years and got very ill. I became a caretaker at a young age, and shortly after my husband became ill, he lost his entire colon. We spent years learning about nutrition, supplements, and any detail that can help him live a normal life. Chemistry has played a huge role in my cooking and baking for him. All my recipes are gluten-free dairy-free with natural sugars. Chemistry has also helped me with my own health. I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 10 years old, so I have experimented and tested the science behind so many supplements and health tips.
My favorite part of being a chemist is starting Chemistry Cachet and getting to share chemist solutions with others! Like making your own cleaning solutions, easy gardening tips, and healthy living!
When I am not working on the website or writing, I love spending time with my husband and English Bulldog πŸ™‚
Please share with us all of the fun science behind the color changes in the frosting experiments.
The beauty of natural foods dyes is how science does all the work for you. All foods have natural pigments and chemicals responsible for the bright, vivid colors unique to each one. Not all color pigments are easily extracted or strong enough to use in things like frosting, but others are strong enough to transfer over, like your saw with the blueberry experiment.
Green plants and their seeds contain a chemical called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is deep green pigment which gives plants all that beautiful dark green color. Sunflower seeds also contain that pigment. Chlorophyll is also known as chlorogenic acid. Since this is an acid, mixing it with a base like baking soda creates a neat chemical reaction leaving behind the green pigment!
Remember as kid a when you would mix vinegar and baking soda together? It would erupt and cause an awesome reaction! Well, vinegar is chemically known as acetic acid. An acid mixed with a base will always react. This is the same reason you get the reaction with the sunflower seeds and baking soda πŸ™‚
What other fun natural food dyes could we make?
One of my favorite dyes to make is with red cabbage. Red cabbage has a pigment known as anthocyanin. It will actually change color depending on the acidity of something. This is why I love using it for a pH indicator too (you can read more details on getting the pigmentation out here) Once you get the pigmentation out you can use it for dyes. Since it does change coloring depending on the acidity, it turns blue when it’s mixed with a base, like baking soda. If you mix it with an acid, like vinegar, it will turn pink!

What else would you like to share with us, we’re all ears?

I would just love to say it is a joy to find others interested in science and healthy living. I love getting to share that enthusiasm with like minded people πŸ™‚ If anyone enjoys chemistry tips and tricks for better living, feel free to follow me on social media or reach out. I love questions and enjoying getting to help others πŸ™‚
You can find me everyday on snapchat (Username is alexisroch) sharing my baking tips, everyday eating, and experiments. And I am always on Instagram (username alexis.roch) sharing my favorite inspiration for healthy living!
Thank you Alexis for sharing your expertise and love of chemistry with us. I have really appreciated all of your posts and the wisdom you share. Please check out Chemistry Cachet to read more about Alexis, the chemistry behind food, natural ways to clean around your house, natural gardening tips, and more.
And now for the cupcake and frosting recipes!! πŸ™‚ There are affiliate links below.

White Frosting

Ingredients
2 C Spectrum Shortening
3 C Powdered sugar (no corn starch)
1 t Vanilla
1/4 t Salt
2 T Rice milk

Directions
In a stand mixer, cream together the shortening and powdered sugar. Add the salt, vanilla, and rice milk, mixing well to combine. If the frosting is too thick, add milk 1 t at a time. If the frosting is too thin, add powdered sugar 1 T at a time until you reach your desired consistency. For frosting that you are wanting to pipe, you need the frosting to not be stiff and not thin. You will have a difficult time piping thick frosting and it will not come out smooth. If the frosting is too thin, it won’t stay in the place you want it to. Add whatever color you prefer from the video above to this frosting. Enjoy!

Sunbutter Frosting

Ingredients
1/2 C Sunbutter
1/2 T Baking soda
2 T Olive Oil
Spray bottle with water

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350Β° Line a baking sheet with Parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the sunbutter, baking soda, and olive oil. Be sure to mix them thoroughly together to ensure the baking soda is evenly distributed. Spread the sunbutter mixture as thinly as possible on the parchment paper. Bake at 350Β° for 17-20 minutes. The sunbutter should be golden brown when done, but not any darker or it will burn. Once the sunbutter has baked, immediately take the pan out of the oven and spray the whole mixture with water and let sit for 20 minutes. By 20 minutes you should see the mixture beginning to turn green. With a rubber spatula, stir the mixture and spray with water again. Do this 3x total and then let the mixture sit until it turn a dark green. Once it is dark green mix with the white frosting (recipe above). When you mix the sunbutter with the frosting, the color will be light at first, but will darken with time. If you want a light green, then don’t mix too much in, but enough to see the color. If you want dark green, mix most of the mixture and wait 24 hours to frost your cupcakes. By then, your frosting will be a nice deep green. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients
1 C Brown rice flour
1 C White rice flour
1/2 C Potato starch
1/2 C Tapioca starch
1 1/2 t Guar gum
1 t Salt
ΒΎ t Cream of tartar
2 t Baking soda
2/3 C Coconut milk +1 1/2 t Lemon juice
1 C Spectrum shortening
1 1/2 C Coconut sugar
6 T Aquafaba (the water from a can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas)
1 1/2 t Vanilla
1/3 C Cocoa powder

Directions
In a bowl, mix the milk and lemon juice together and set aside. Preheat oven to 350Β°. Line your cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream shortening and sugar together. Add the rest of the liquid ingredients to the creamed shortening, including the milk. Next, add all of the dry ingredients together and mix well until combined. Using a large scoop, place one scoop of batter into each muffin tin prepared with paper liners. Makes 18 cupcakes. Bake at 350Β° for 18 minutes. When the cupcakes are done baking place them on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Vegan Nut Free Pesto

Vegan, nut free pesto for the win! With a family that can’t eat tomato, dairy, or garlic, this makes sauces very difficult. It really makes pizza challenging and who doesn’t love pizza?! I was bound and determined to find a sauce that my whole family could eat and enjoy for pizza. My husband and I went out to an allergy friendly restaurant many years ago, unfortunately it was terrible. I had a pesto pasta and it tasted really bad, but it gave me a great idea, to make our own pesto.

Every summer we grow a simple garden and put many of our favorites in it that are easy to maintain. Basil plants are very inexpensive to buy and easy to care for. I buy mine at Trader Joes at the beginning of every summer. They plant easily in our raised beds and don’t mind having quite a bit of shade. I plant four of them every summer and harvest them repeatedly throughout the summer. These four plants produce enough leaves for me to make pesto to last me through the whole year. It’s amazing! If you have space in your yard and care to grow simple plants, this is a great one to grow. I have a black thumb and I can keep them alive so you certainly can. πŸ™‚

Back to my pesto. I have been making this recipe for many many years and it’s always a crowd pleaser, even with non food allergy people. No one ever knows the difference. I posted this picture below on Instagram in the fall after I harvested my basil and made a batch of pesto. A friend of mine left a comment that it looked like I was starting a marijuana dispensary. LOL!!!! This was hilarious to me because she knows me very well. For 11 years I was a drug and alcohol counselor for kids, so she knows very well I was not dispensing weed. It did give me a good laugh though, so if you thought the same thing, now you know it’s not. I didn’t go from being a drug and alcohol counselor to dealing drugs, I promise! πŸ™‚

I use this pesto recipe on pizza, pasta, grilled sandwiches, with chicken, and any other way you could imagine using pesto. Give it a try!

Pesto

Ingredients
2 C Fresh basil leaves, packed
ΒΌ C Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
Β½ C Olive oil
3 T Sunflower seeds, raw
2 Garlic cloves finely chopped (omit if you can’t have them)
1 t Salt

Directions
Put all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until desired consistency is reached. Use fresh on pizza, patsa, bread, or any other fun idea you may have. If you want to make it ahead for later, freeze in silicone baking cups or in small snack size zip lock bags. If you freeze them in silicone cups, place them in a large zip lock bag once fully frozen. Enjoy!

Daiya Cheese Review

Over the many years that my family has had dairy allergies and intolerances, we have looked at many dairy free cheeses. It is always shocking to me that the vast majority of dairy free cheese (nut, rice, and soy based) has casein which is milk protein. That makes no sense to me at all. What is even the point of making the cheese to begin with? The only people that would eat that kind of cheese, in my mind anyways, are those that are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerant people can take a lactaid type pill (I did for many years before I couldn’t eat dairy at all) and eat traditional cheese without issue. If I could eat traditional cheese, I would eat it everyday in many styles. I certainly wouldn’t eat dairy free cheese just for the fun of it. Would any of you? Seriously, if you would, I would love to hear your reasons. πŸ™‚ No judging here, I am just curious.

My husband was the first to go dairy free in our family before we had kids. Back then, I didn’t realize that I needed to read the label of a cheese that said “dairy free”. I figured it would be dairy free! For many years he ate soy cheese, it was the best we could find at the time. The soy cheese was a bit rubbery, didn’t really melt, and browned when cooked. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?! He continued to have symptoms of eating dairy, so I started reading labels more carefully. At this point, we realized he couldn’t eat the soy cheese so he was out of cheese options for quite some time.

I can’t remember how long my husband had gone without cheese, but it had probably been more than a year. We went to a local pizza restaurant that carried a vegan/dairy free cheese. Both of us tried the cheese on a melted sub sandwich and were amazed at how good the cheese was. We liked it so much that I asked the waitress what kind of cheese it was. It was Daiya mozzarella style cheese. I went home and googled where I could pick some of this cheese up and found it at a store I frequent near my house. We began to eat quite a bit of the mozzarella shreds though used it sparingly. The taste of the mozzarella shreds is VERY pungent, nothing like true mozzarella cheese. If you aren’t careful, the pungent flavor will completely take over whatever you are using it with. When we used it on pizza, I used maybe 1/2 cup for a whole pizza. Daiya’s cream cheese has this same pungent flavor so we avoid it altogether. In all honesty, for us it ruins a good bagel or anything else you would mix it with. The mozzarella shreds I have found is best in grilled sandwiches with other bold flavors like a meatball sandwich, a pesto veggie sandwich, a french dip, etc. Other than that, I don’t use the mozzarella shreds at all.

A few years back, the cheddar style shreds (affiliate link) appeared on the shelves so I figured I would give it try. This is by FAR the best dairy free/vegan cheese for all intensive purposes. The flavor is very mild so it works nicely on pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, etc. It actually melts which is amazing if you’ve tried other dairy free cheese. I just started buying this by the case from my local grocery store so I can get a discount. It freezes for up to 3 months. Now, if you have had traditional cheese, you need to go into this knowing it’s not real cheese. I don’t think there is anything dairy free out there that would look, smell, taste, melt, and have the same texture as traditional cheese. If you can go in with that in mind, I think you will agree with me. My family loves this cheese on anything. πŸ™‚

My husband really loves cheese, crackers, and salami with a glass of wine. The cheddar style cheese isn’t a great fit for this purpose. Over Christmas I decided to give the Daiya Pepperjack style block cheese a chance for my husbands gift. My husband is very particular about food, he’s my best food critic. He absolutely loved this cheese! It paired very well with the other bold flavors of salami and wine. Since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t give you any other insight than that. From the smell of it, it is also more of a pungent cheese so I would use it paired with other bold flavors as well.

Altogether, Daiya cheese has changed our food allergy life for the better. It is so nice to have an amazing alternative that truly is dairy free.